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Health care is now a primary estate planning concern

Hubbard Snitchler & Parzianello

For Michigan residents who are thinking about the future and want to protect themselves, their families, their businesses and every other aspect of life, an estate plan is a necessity. Addressing the individual goals will obviously vary, but there are basic factors that arise and impact all other parts of a comprehensive plan. For example, people who have accrued significant assets and own a business might be worried about how these properties will be passed on to loved ones efficiently and in a financially sound manner. When there is a large family with adult children and perhaps second or even third marriages, family squabbles will need to be addressed. Tax requirements change with every new presidential administration, so it is also imperative to adapt the plan as needed. Paying attention to overriding concerns is key and it is useful to be proactive and informed.

Survey shows health care is at the top of estate planning concerns

Proper estate planning can put contingencies in place for a seemingly endless litany of issues. Whereas in the past, estate planning experts have discussed family disputes as the biggest obstacle they face in helping their clients, current events have brought health care to the forefront. In a recent survey, the cost of health care has overtaken family disputes as the most common problem people want to mitigate with their estate plan. According to the study, 22% said health care and how long people would live has risen to the top. Two years ago, it was far lower at 7%. Family conflict was mentioned by one-quarter of those surveyed in 2019. In the latest research, it had declined to 10%.

Regarding family disagreements, a major problem was a lack of communication as to what the testator wanted and how it impacted heirs. That was mentioned by 43% of respondents in 2020. For the latest survey, it was cut to 24%. More than one-third of respondents said blended families was a bigger issue. The recent societal circumstances have fundamentally changed how people live. Job loss and people willingly walking away from the workforce happened more often.

Eighty-nine percent stated female clients were in this group with 87% saying the estate plans needed to be updated. Guardian and beneficiary changes were made in 38%; the same percentage altered their powers of attorney; and 35% changed their will. Business owners and people with high assets were considering how the new presidential administration will impact their estate plan. If there is a change to the estate tax, that will require people to find other strategies to create a shield.

Intelligent estate planning can avoid conflicts and unexpected problems

With estate planning, it is important to remember that the document may need to be updated to deal with life changes as they occur. That can be achieved with adequate preparation and attentiveness. Whether there are worries about health care, having a power of attorney, avoiding will contests, combating lawsuits, having guardianships and ensuring that a will is sufficient, experienced guidance can be crucial. From the start, experienced advice can help with an estate plan. Consulting with those who understand all aspects of these issues can create a plan tailored to the individual’s personal and professional needs.

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